ALTA – NYC
64 W. 10th St. (nr. Sixth Ave) New York, NY 10011
Date Dined: 1.10.12
Alta is a very cute West Village tapas restaurant that you might walk right by if you didn’t know what you were looking for. The subterranean entrance is masked by a wrought iron fence covered in ivy. While the food is consistently good and you always leave satisfied, nothing on the menu really pops. Maybe this is why they insist on bringing dishes out so fast that you end up feeling as if you should have ordered more before your stomach has the chance to realize it is full. This is unfortunate because the atmosphere at Alta is great and invites you to linger and get comfortable for a while. The cozy double level dining room is nestled in the back of a converted townhouse, warmed by rustic wood and fireplace in the back. In the front there is a long bar that is generally pretty full of people sipping red and white sangria as they wait for their tables. I guess the ambiance is what really keeps me coming back.
While there is an option to order “The Whole Shebang”, which is one of everything on the pretty extensive menu, (we actually whipped out a pen to keep track of what we were going to order) we ended up ordering a dozen or so of the small plates.
Bacon Wrapped Dates & Olives Stuffed with Almonds: I love bacon wrapped dates but I kept accidentally picking the olives which I wasn’t as much of a fan of. Guess I should have paid more attention. We ended up ordering a second round. Still no dates for me.
Fried Goat Cheese with Lavender Infused Honey: I am not sure you can mess up a straight-up fried goat cheese ball. While delicious, this probably didn’t take much skill to make. We enjoyed it nontheless.
Whipped Deviled Egg with Vanilla Scented Tomato Coulis, Frisee, Lemon Omani, and Aleppo Pepper: This all sounds very complicated for the tiny bite of deviled egg we each ended up getting (one egg, four ways). The egg was soft and a bit tangy from the lemon but the other flavors were very subtle.
Lamb Meatballs with Spiced Butternut Squash Foam, Toasted Sesame Seeds and Lebne: These tiny one-bite meatballs were tender and dressed in a light curried squash foam. The Lebne (strained yogurt) on top added a bit of creaminess.
Bruschetta of Spinach & Mascarpone, Dried Turkish Figs, Pine Nuts, Parmesan & Balsamic: This dish was surprisingly good. I find normal buschettas a bit boring but this one was served on a soft filo-type dough with just enough of the tangy spread in every bite.
Carpaccio of Black Bass Finger Lime, Kaffir Lime Infused Olive Oil, Mint & Cilantro: The bass was very fresh and presentation was nice enough but I thought this was a bit underseasoned given the amount of ingredients listed in the description.
Avocado Relleno with Crabmeat & Shrimp, Dressed with Frisee, and Orange Segments: Standard. Not too much differentiated this dish from your grandmother’s country club buffet.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts Fuji Apples, Crème Fraiche, and Pistachio Nuts: These are some very good Brussels sprouts. I guess my only real criticism here is that the trend seems a bit tired now that they have begun to pop up on just about every menu.
Angus Beef Slider in Turkish Yufka Pastry Mahon Cheese, Pickle Relish, Spiced Ketchup: This dish confused me a bit. It was more of a beef wonton than a slider. The yufka pastry was too greasy and chewy and after a long discussion on ketchup we decided that no one can mess with Heinz.
Chestnut & Mascarpone Ravioli pancetta, sage brown butter, vin cotto, preserved lemon: This was probably my favorite dish of the evening. This buttery, creamy pasta melted in your mouth with nuttiness from the chestnut.
Smoked Foie Gras Mousse with Marcona Almond Butter, Cabernet Huckleberry Veil, Baby Basil: The texture of this dish was beautiful. I smooth, light cloud of fois gras mousse covered in the mildly sweet huchleberry gelatin. Bits of marcona almonds added a bit of crunch.
Roasted Pork Belly with Confit Gingered Cauliflower Puree, Black Onion Seed Powder, and Shiso: The pork belly appeared so perfectly butchered that it looked like someone had created a Napoleon out of thin layers of pork with just the right amount of fat, and topped it with a crisp layer of golden glazed skin.
Mascarpone and Lebne Cheesecake with Graham Cocoa Dust, Caramel Cream, Pomegranate Molasses: A good version of a cheesecake – creamy and not too sweet.
Pecan Financier: This last little bite of warm, nutty cake was a great way to end the meal.
Overall, Alta is a very cute place to go with a few friends to catch up or casual date night at any time of year. You will definitely leave satisfied. Just remember they only take cash or American Express.